Where's Walton ... Day 15: West Coast Reflections
SATURDAY, MAY 4: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
Hall of Famer and NBA on NBC analyst Bill Walton, who led his Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA championship 25 years ago, is making history once again as he "Loves it Live" by traveling to 30 NBA games in 30 days during NBA Playoffs 2002. Join Walton as he experiences the thrilling playoff excitement first hand, which is passionately documented in his daily reports on NBA.com along with an exclusive “Where’s Walton?” map
spotlighting his cross-country travels. Get on the Bus!
RAINBOWS SPIRAL ROUND AND ROUND, IT TREMBLES AND EXPLODES … PYRAMIDS, RAILROAD GATES AND BRIDGES, BIG MUDDY ROLLING ON FOREVER AND WHERE ARE YOU TONIGHT, SWEET MARIE
|By Bill Walton|
… The pre-game walk, always the greatest source of inspiration in my life… INSPIRATION, MOVE ME BRIGHTLY … California, the Central Valley, so critical to all of us, particularly to this lost soul … My dad is a native of the Central Valley. His parents were schoolteachers in the world’s greatest food producing region. Lori is also from this Fertile Crescent. So much of the sustenance we get from this magical land, her family grows. Then there is always the people and the never-ending stories … Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath,” detailing man’s incredible inhumanity to his brothers and sisters … “IN THE SOULS OF THE PEOPLE” … Cesar Chavez, one of the most heroic and admired figures of our time, a good friend for many years. We miss him terribly. He’s the founder of the first successful farmer’s union in this country …I’m reminded in my contemplative trance, during this thunderous, pounding walk on yet another spectacular spring California day, of Coach Wooden’s sad stories of how people mistreated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – and we wonder why folks develop shields, anger, bitterness and resentment … Capitol Park has never looked better than today … I stopped for an extra long prayer at the California World Peace Rose Garden. The colors of the flowers, so splendid with the fresh buds and growth reaching for the heavens and the ever warming sun … HERE COMES SUNSHINE … But sadly, some of the roses are drooping because of the war in the Middle East. … NOTHING TO KILL OR DIE FOR … AND NO RELIGION TOO … I can only think of leaders such as Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, men of peace, men of nonviolence. Where are they now? Why can’t we get someone like that involved in this nightmare? … Fortunately, we have Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, who keeps things real for us. Not only in his regular columns but in two of the greatest books I have ever had the privilege of reading: “The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” and “From Beirut to Jerusalem” … If people would just realize that happiness begins when selfishness ends, then we’d all be a lot better off … NO NEED FOR GREED OR HUNGER … Imagine all of the people living life in peace ….YOU MAY SAY I’M A DREAMER BUT I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE, I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU’LL JOIN US AND THE WORLD WILL BE ONE …
Bill shakes hands with the next great European big man, Dirk Nowitzki.
We’ve reached the midway point of the Love It Live Tour and we’re in the zone. The games -- like my life -- are just the way I like it --- long, loud and fast … So many special memories here in Sacramento with the Grateful Dead and the huge masses of humanity, celebrating, dancing, singing, laughing at Cal Expo. On quieter days, small, intimate gatherings at the Sacramento Civic Auditorium. Big or small, the difference was always the people … and Jerry … I used to love to bring my bike on the Grateful Dead tours, riding through the parking lot and bike trails here in glorious Sacramento. Just the thought of that brings a smile to my face. When I think of those celebrations and how much fun we used to have, dancing under the hot summer sun or the magnificent light show provided by Candace, my mind drifts to Don Nelson -- one of the greatest innovators this game has ever known … Just remember, consistency is the last bastion of the unimaginative.
Don Nelson has been a huge influence in my life. He was part of the great Celtic teams of the ’60s that drew me to the NBA. A man who was so helpful and supportive in my early attempts to get in on the business side of basketball once my playing days came to a premature end. Don was coaching the Golden State Warriors in those days and he used to conduct adult fantasy basketball camps during the offseason. I was part of the coaching staff and the camps were always held in the most idyllic settings of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was basketball all day long – hot, sweaty, steamy gyms -- dawn til dusk. At night, it would roll on forever and into the Napa and Sonoma Valley Wineries. The laughter, jokes, stories, friendship and kinship among basketball players enabled us to fight off the exhaustion --- the same fuel we’re using now on the Love It Live Tour.
Don Nelson like John Wooden, Jack Ramsay, Red Auerbach was always ahead of the curve … Remember when Nellie said the Knicks had to move beyond Patrick Ewing, yet none of the old guard would have it? ..
I remember broadcasting Knicks games during that era, when the team would play so badly because they were mired in their old tired ways, frustration and bitterness at the Garden was tangent. IN THE RUINS OF YOUR BALCONY … WOND’RING WHERE YOU ARE TONIGHT, SWEET MARIE …As the crowd would shower endless boos on Nelson, he purposely stopped calling timeouts in an attempt to get the games over as quickly as possible … THAT A MAN CAN’T GIVE HIS ADDRESS OUT TO BAD COMPANY …Where are you tonight, Sweet New York?
As I reflect on the mistreatment of the ones willing to take a chance, I am reminded of the poster that sits above our family dining room table. A huge facial expression of an angelic Albert Einstein, with his quote boldly proclaiming:
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
Look where Don Nelson is and where innovation has taken him. It’s taken him to Dirk Nowitzki -- the vision, the dream of seeing what’s next in basketball. Internationally, great big men started with Kresimir Cosic, Yugolslavia’s Hall of Famer, who played at BYU. He was a contemporary of mine in the early ’70s and tragically died as a victim of cancer on May 25, 1995 … The lineage then continued to Arvydas Sabonis, who was the second greatest young player I ever saw after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I first witnessed Sabonis’ extraordinary talents at the European Championships in Stuttgart, Germany in the early ’80s. He was 19 years old and played like a 7-3 Larry Bird, running like the wind, shooting threes, dribbling like Magic Johnson, rebounding like Wilt Chamberlain and blocking shots like Bill Russell. In the first half of the championship game, Sabonis had 30 points and 20 boards – at the half! We sat there that night in stunned awe, dreaming of ways to kidnap this prisoner of the Bolshevik system … BUT TO LIVE OUTSIDE THE LAW, YOU MUST BE HONEST … Fortunately, Sabonis had a truly brilliant coach, Alexander ‘Sascha’ Gomelsky (now rightfully in the Basketball Hall of Fame). Now there is Dirk Nowitzki, who is on his way to unimaginable levels for a man his size…
Bill gives a T-shirt to a young fan.
It was great to have Marv back …WELL, ANYBODY CAN BE JUST LIKE ME, OBVIOUSLY … BUT THEN, NOW AGAIN, NOT TOO MANY CAN BE LIKE YOU, FORTUNATELY … Forget about the broadcast, I’m talking about someone who knows first class. Last week, we had a broken down bus with no shock absorbers and we felt like we were bouncing along on the road to oblivion. With Marv back, we had a charter Lear jet … The game didn’t live up to expectations … I’M JUST SITTING HERE BEATING ON MY TRUMPET … WITH ALL THESE PROMISES YOU LEFT FOR ME … Dallas better make some serious adjustments if they are going to make this a series … BEEN DOWN BEFORE, YOU JUST DON’T HAVE TO GO NO MORE …Sacramento looked like the superior team, physically. The maturity based on age difference was obvious to even the casual observer … Sacramento’s bench was magnificent and today the Kings played a championship-level style. They controlled the basket area …
Dallas has a lot of work cut out for them … IT’S EASY IF YOU TRY …Shawn Bradley is not the answer. Raef LaFrentz seems to be using Jerry Stackhouse’s recent performance as his inspiration. Somebody on that Dallas squad needs to slap Raef around a little bit and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to get going.’ … Steve Nash is one of my favorite players but what we saw of him today is not the Steve Nash I know. He was badly outplayed by Mike Bibby and Bobby Jackson today. Dallas is not going to win if that trend continues. Basketball fans can only hope that Steve Nash’s foot is truly OK …This was the best game I’ve seen Sacramento play this year. From a mental standpoint, they knew what they wanted. They took what they felt is theirs …
In L.A. now. So quick. Thank you, Marv. Do you think you can get into another accident pretty soon? … Lori and Loma came up from San Diego and they’re both cuter than ever … Spurs-Lakers today and I don’t know how San Antonio expects to do this? They’re outmatched at every position with the exception of Tim Duncan and the Lakers have Robert Horry to play him … Good luck, San Antonio. Play for fun. Remember it’s Cinco de Mayo -- Sombreros and tequila are the order of the day … I’ll take mine with salt and a lime.
Big Red’s Quote of the Day:
“Craig Kilborn came to the game today – he’s a real fan. He sat in the front row next to the Maloof Brothers, who wore their Love It Live Tour shirts. They’ve been on the bus for quite awhile. Craig and I played one on one before the game started. His verbal game is razor sharp. The rest of it is better left unmentioned.”